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  1. 1. The Watergate Scandal
  2. 2. Profile: Richard Millhouse Nixon – 1913: Born in California – Reputation as brilliant scholar & lawyer – WWII: Navy Lieutenant in Pacific – > war: elected to HoR; HUAC Committee – 1950: elected to Senate – Helped McCarthy w/ anti-Communist investigations – 1952: VP candidate w/ Ike; 1953-1961 VP – 1960: Republican candidate, lost to JFK – 1968: Elected President promising to exit Vietnam – 1972: Re-elected – 1973-74: Watergate controversy – 1974: Resigned office to avoid being impeached – 1994: Died, effects of a stroke
  3. 3. The Epic of Watergate • Rocked the USA in early 1970s • Single greatest threat to Constitution ever • Started small and snowballed – Phase 1: CREEP – Phase 2: Did Nixon know? – Phase 3: Battle for the tapes – Phase 4: The end
  4. 4. Phase 1: CREEP suspected• 17 June 1972: Five ‘burglars’ arrested in Democratic Party HQ in Watergate Hotel – Not stealing, but planting bugging devices – One was former CIA agent – All linked to Committee for the Re-election of the President (CREEP) • FBI investigates CREEP – Massive campaign to spy on Nixon’s opponents – CREEP raised $60 million for re-election by pressuring companies w/ gov’t contracts – John Mitchell, CREEP director, used ‘dirty tricks’ to discredit Democrats – Two Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward, pursued own investigation – Nixon denied he or close advisors were involved • Nov. 1972: Nixon won landslide election
  5. 5. Phase 2: Did Nixon Know? • January 1973: – Watergate burglars on trial – All found guilty – One claimed White House involved • Nixon reacts: – Denied allegation – Appointed Archibald Cox as special Watergate prosecutor • Senate investigates: – May-Nov. 1973: Senator Sam Ervin (Dem., NC) led televised independent Senate investigation – Clear that senior White House officials involved – Three of Nixon’s advisors resigned – One, John Dean, claimed he discusses burglary at least 35 times w/ Nixon – Nixon denied any involvement, fired
  6. 6. Phase 3: Battle for the Tapes • Nixon’s tapes – Senate Investigation revealed Nixon recorded all conversations in oval office since 1971 – Senate & Cox wanted tapes – Nixon refused, citing “presidential privilege” • 20 October 1973: “Saturday Night Massacre” – Nixon ordered Attorney General to fire Cox – AG refused, then resigned under pressure – New AG fired Cox – New special investigator, Leon Jaworski, also demanded tapes – Nixon released some tapes, but 18 ½ crucial minutes had been “accidentally” erased
  7. 7. Phase 4: The End • SC ordered tapes turned over – Revealed Nixon involved in initial campaign – Revealed Nixon repeatedly tried to cover up • 27 July 1974: – House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Nixon for obstruction of justice – 66% of Americans in favor of impeachment • 8 August: – Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment – As civilian, Nixon could have been tried as criminal, but Jaworski didn’t prosecute – President Ford pardoned him
  8. 8. The Aftermath • Congress passed laws due to scandal – Privacy Act (1974): Americans can inspect gov’t files on them – Budget Act (1974): President has to account for all $$$ spent (Nixon believed to have spent millions of gov’t money on personal properties & evaded $400,000 of taxes) – Election Campaign Act: Limited campaign contributions; eliminated foreign donations • Scandal utterly destroyed Nixon’s rep – Called “Tricky Dick”, achievements forgotten • Watergate’s deeper damage – Undermined America’s confidence in gov’t – Was Nixon exception or rule of political system? – Press turned from hiding info (JFK) to seeking scandal
  9. 9. The Watergate scandal refers to a political scandal in the United States in the 1970s. Named for the Watergate apartment complex, effects of the scandal ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, President of the United States, on August 9, 1974. It also resulted in the indictment and conviction of several Nixon administration officials.
  10. 10. Facing certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and the strong possibility of a conviction in the Senate, Nixon resigned, becoming the only U.S. president to have resigned from office. His successor, Gerald Ford, would issue a controversial pardon (Sept. 8, 1974) for any federal crimes Nixon may
  11. 11. Questions for Discussion • Why do you think the American public was so outraged by Watergate? • Do you think President Nixon should have resigned? Explain. • Do you think President Nixon should have been prosecuted? Explain.